Understanding what triggers your atrial fibrillation episodes can help keep them under control. “We are in our infancy in learning what causes and what triggers afib,” explains Mellanie True Hills, founder of the American Foundation for Women’s Health and the atrial fibrillation patient resource StopAfib.org. But paying attention to your body can help shed light on your personal triggers.
For many people what you eat or drink can be a trigger. Coffee and other caffeinated drinks can bring on afib, while drinking water and staying hydrated can help prevent episodes. Alcohol and MSG can be triggers as well. Taking magnesium, potassium or calcium have also been shown to correct deficiencies and prevent afib in some people. Eating a large meal, especially late at night, can trigger vagal afib.
Physical activity can bring on afib in some people, as can bending over, sleeping on the left side or doing anything that impacts the left side of the body, which is where the heart resides.
“We are also finding that stress can bring on atrial fibrillation. When you read in the medical publications about what brings on atrial fibrillation, rarely do you see even a mention of stress. And yet, in at least half to two-thirds of the patients we’ve interviewed, stress was what brought it on for them,” explains Mellanie.
For some people, understanding their afib triggers can be essential to managing it. For others, the triggers are less clear. “For me it was really wild — I might be leaning over washing the dog or leaning over checking e-mail; at other-times I could do the same things with no problem at all. I never really knew what would trigger it,” says Mellanie.
Some common triggers
- Coffee and other types of caffeine
- Leaning or bending over
- Eating a large meal
- Sleeping on your left side
- Not enough magnesium, potassium or calcium
In any case, it is important to use all of the treatment and prevention tools available to manage your afib to avoid stroke and heart failure.
The Patient’s Perspective is a series of recorded teleconferences and articles presented by the Embrace Your Heart Wellness Initiative and hosted by Eliz Greene. Each teleconference focuses on a specific challenge facing women with heart disease. For more information visit www.EmbraceYourHeart.com
Share your thoughts by making a comment below
Need a tip to eat better, move more or manage your stress?
Wish Eliz would answer your question?
Add a comment below and we’ll provide the tip!
Eliz Greene is the Busy Woman’s Guide to a Health. Drawing on her experience surviving a massive heart attack while seven-months pregnant with twins, struggling to lose the 80 pounds gained during her pregnancy, and her background as an adaptive movement specialist, Eliz developed simple strategies and tips to help other busy women be more active, eat better and manage your stress.
As the Director of the Embrace Your Heart Wellness Initiative, Eliz travels the country energizing and inspiring audiences in keynotes and workshops on women’s heart health. She writes one of the top 100 health and wellness blogs. Find more at www.EmbraceYourHeart.com
8 Responses to “What Trips Your Trigger? Managing Your Afib By Understanding Your Triggers”
[…] What’s Your Trigger? Managing Your Afib By Understanding Your Triggers […]
I’ve had lone afib for years, had all the tests, been hospitalized. All tests are normal. Drs. treated me with all kinds of meds – all made me feel terrible. I currently am on metopropol 25mg once a day. I don’t really think I need it because about 9 months ago my GP put me on xanax as needed and effexor 37.5 mg for anxiety. I have not had one severe afib since. If I start to feel anxious and start with the rapid heart beat which always leads to afib, I bite of 1/4 of the xanax and it goes away in minutes instead of hours. I am a 63 year old female.
Thanks for sharing your story, I’m glad to hear you are finding some relief. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to visit http://stopafib.org/ It is a great resource. You can find them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/StopAfib?ref=ts and Twitter too @stopafib.
Hello my name is Karen I have had a fib for about a year and then had the cardiac ablation blast October and it seemed it made it worse. Now we are 5 months out of haveing the ablation and will be having a 2nd one. I am very scared but I am also tired of this. It stops me from a lot of things I use to do, dancing,sing,bending over and even trying to walk at a fast pace and yes stress can bring it on if I don’t control it.
I hope you are feeling better now. If you haven’t already, please visit stopafib.org to find great resources and you might like this Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/AtrialFibrillationSupportForum/
I had a lone afib in 2015. It was during a terrible gastritis/GERD episode and my hiatal hernia was bad. I find that if I eat and lean forward my heart gets bothered but if I sit up straight all is well. I am on Diltiazem and famotadine and so far so good. I told my cardio that I am sure there is a connection between my stomach and the GERD and the afib episode. He said he has heard that but never been able to proove it.
Thanks for your comment – very interesting. Have you discovered the Afib support forum on Facebook? https://www.facebook.com/groups/AtrialFibrillationSupportForum/ Pose your question about GERD and Afib there – I’ll bet you’ll find others with the same issue.
I have had afib for 7 year and had 17 cardioversions. In the beginning if I went into afib I would not convert to NSR without a cardioversion. As time has passed I have found numerous triggers, certainly eating a heavy meal, too much salt, bending over especially after a meal, getting up quickly as in a rush (anxiety), not getting enough rest, and I think my hiatal hernia/reflux plays a role. Since my ablation and flecainide/metoprolol drugs I have not required a cardioversion in 2 years. I may go into afib for 2 minutes or up to 4 hours, but it does happen every week more typically no more than 2 hours. You walk on eggshells fearing is it going to not convert this time and require cardioversion or another ablation. I experienced cardiac arrest on one antiarrhymic drug, cardiac tamponade with my ablation and a difficult airway. Afib has completely changed my life.